Wednesday, January 21, 2009

[Together] We Are One

This past Sunday, I trekked to the Lincoln Memorial for the We Are One tribute concert for then President-Elect Barack Obama. Despite the chilly weather and standing in security lines for nearly an hour, the crowd was lively and cheerful, and in some sense, at peace. Strangers stood next to each other in shared anticipation, eager for the concert and thinking about the upcoming Inauguration on Tuesday.

When the Obama family walked down the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, the crowd went wild, ecstatic that their newly elected leader wanted to join them in the moment. Celebrity presenters, including Tiger Woods, Ashley Judd, Queen Latifah and Jack Black, introduced the artists after presenting tidbits of history about previous inaugural celebrations. Martin Luther King III spoke in commemoration of his father, whose birthday was being celebrated the following day, and said that Martin Luther King Jr. day should be a day of service to others. Jamie Foxx injected humor to the event by briefly impersonating Obama. Garth Brooks got the whole audience singing “American Pie” and jumping up and down to “Shout.”

Obama gave a brief, powerful speech. He acknowledged the crowd, saying,
“You proved once more that people who love this country can change it. And as I prepare to assume the presidency, yours are the voices I will take with me every day when I walk into that Oval Office -- the voices of men and women who have different stories but hold common hopes; who ask only for what was promised us as Americans -- that we might make of our lives what we will and see our children climb higher than we did.”
And for those two hours, as I stood with hundreds of thousands of strangers on the National Mall… we were one.

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